The global site of the UK's leading magazine for automation, motion engineering and power transmission
24 October, 2021

Energy regulations for motors and VSDs are set to change in July

06 January, 2021

From July 2021, a new Ecodesign regulation will come into force for low-voltage induction electric motors rated up to 1kV AC and, for the first time, for variable-speed drives. ABB UK sales manager Rich Gee explains the new requirements. 

Many projects, particularly those in hazardous environments, can have long lead times, often taking many months to move from planning to implementation. It is critical, therefore, to be aware of a significant change taking place on 1 July 2021 when the Ecodesign Regulation (EU) 2019/1781 will come into effect. The regulation will encompass a range of motor types that were excluded from earlier efficiency requirements. Failure to embrace these changes now could prove costly for projects currently being designed and built.


From July onwards, IE3 efficiency levels will be mandatory for:

•  motors with rated outputs from 0.75–1,000kW;

•  three-phase, single-speed motors for 50Hz, 60Hz, 50/60Hz operation up to 1kV;

•  safe area motors and motors for Ex t, Ex ec, Ex d and Ex de, rated for S1, S3 > 80%, S6 > 80% duty;

•  totally-enclosed, air-over (TEAO) motors; and

•   brake motors with external brakes.


IE2 efficiency levels will be required for three-phase motors from 0.12–0.75kW.

This is the latest stage in a roadmap of efficiency improvements to motors – and now variable-speed drives as well – that started more than a decade ago. EU member countries agreed the more demanding requirements in the new regulation EU 2019/1781, repealing and replacing the earlier Regulation 640/2009 which allowed IE2 motors to be used with VSDs. From 1 July 2021, this ceases to be an option.

Regarding VSDs, the earlier regulation did not stipulate any efficiency requirements. This has now changed. From July, three-phase standard drives (diode rectifier) from 0.12–1,000kW are included. For low-voltage VSDs, the following are excluded from the regulation: regenerative drives; low-harmonic drives (with a THD of less than 10%); multiple AC-output drives; and single-phase drives. Several other drive types are also excluded, including MV drives, DC drives and traction drives.

Looking further ahead, 1 July 2023 will see additions to the first step described here. From that date, IE4 will become mandatory for safe area three-phase motors with 2, 4, or 6 poles from 75-200kW. The coverage will also extend to Ex eb motors and single-phase motors. But more about that closer to the time.

In the meantime, some manufacturers, including ABB, are ahead of the curve, already offering comprehensive motor portfolios that comply with the new requirements, including motor types that are exempt in the current regulation, such as Ex, TEAO and 60Hz motors. Furthermore, all major drive products are compliant, with product documentation and manuals being updated to reflect this.

  • To view a digital copy of the latest issue of Drives & Controls, click here.

    To visit the digital library of past issues, click here

    To subscribe to the magazine, click here



Drives Show 2022The next Drives & Controls Exhibition and Conference will take place in Birmingham, UK, from 5-7 April, 2022. For more information on the event, visit the Show Web site


"Do you think that robots create or destroy jobs?"



Most Read Articles